The Courage to Try

Kara Vogler @mtnghoststudio Nov 7th 2023
  • Kevin Lindlau
  • Kara Vogler

Chapter 1 of a 3-part Series
Climbing with Kevin Lindlau in Italy

Sometimes we avoid the big goal. The anxiety provoking, maybe “scary” goal. The one we are procrastinating because it’s dangerous or fear of failure is subconsciously too difficult to bear. We distract ourselves with smaller objectives that may even bring us little successes with some sense of fulfillment, but eventually that big goal we are avoiding will gnaw at us until we have no option but to listen. Some of us can avoid that goal forever, lacking the courage to work hard and remain persistent, endlessly questioning, “what if I’d simply tried?” Some of us, on the other hand, can climb out of that darkness and into the light. Here is where I want to introduce to you Kevin Lindlau, a competitive dry-tooler and a Sterling athlete.

Kevin arrived at a world renowned dry-tooling destination in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy with a seemingly simple goal: to have fun, drink as much coffee as possible, and climb Parallel World, a D15+ difficulty dry-tooling route in Tom’s Cave. Parallel World was a route he did not have time to complete during last year’s summer trip to the Dolomites. As a second thought, Kevin considered Aletheia, a D16 rated route in a darker, dingier cave called Tana del Drago (Dragon’s Lair in English). Aletheia is potentially the most difficult dry-tooling route in the world and has never been repeated after its First Ascent by its creator, Matteo Pilon in 2021. This seems like the more enticing goal, correct?

Alithea is not without its challenges. The route is 65 meters of horizontal roof, including up to 60 moves without rests, 2 rope changes, and 43 bolts drilled into wet, seeping crumbly rock. The cave is deep and dark underground and threatens moths, rodents and spiders. The route requires the use of a headlamp, beginning in pitch blackness and symbolically finishing in the light at the mouth of the cave. Kevin is strong, he spent the last few months training hard, but the week before the trip he was so sick he barely moved from the couch and the cough, congestion and fatigue still lingered into his travels. As each member of our group staggered out of bed to the breakfast table on our first climbing day of the trip, groggy from multiple days of airplane sleeps and jetlag, Kevin, with a coffee in hand announced, “I want to go for Aletheia. At least just go look at it. I think I will regret it if I don’t even try.” And just like that, Kevin Lindlau stared into fear of failure and courageously put himself in the running to be the first American climber to complete a D16 dry-tooling route.

The adventure continues...

American Climber Kevin Lindlau

Sterling Athlete: Kevin Lindlau

Author: Kara Vogler @mtnghoststudio
Photos: Kara Vogler @mtnghoststudio